Sustaining Higher Ed at University of South Dakota (UPDATED)

We have something of a higher education crisis in this country. College costs are out of sight for many people. Massive debts are becoming the norm for those who do go to college/university. For the many thousands of people who got degrees in areas which have no corresponding jobs in the workforce, the pain is particularly harsh. Some of them ended up working full-time as Occupiers.

So, it is with this background that the University of South Dakota has jumped on the buzzword bandwagon:

Beginning in the fall of 2012, the University of South Dakota will offer a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Arts in Sustainability. This degree program will contribute to the development of the South Dakota workforce in industries such as wind energy, hydroelectric power, geothermal energy technologies, biofuels and “green” construction practices.

“The demand for experts in sustainability is growing across the country,” stated Matthew Moen, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. “Graduates of our program will ultimately be prepared for exciting careers in industries that the state has identified as crucial to South Dakota’s future.”

We are creating a program to turn out graduates who are uniquely suited to work in and for industries whose existence is largely dependent on the continuation of massive government subsidies. This makes so much sense.

Does anybody know what sustainability is? Do they understand that in a world of limited resources, nothing is sustainable in the long-term and that use of anything is a question of resource competition and valuation?

UPDATE

Here is an excellent explanation of the issues which underlie the use of “sustainability” as a useful, meaningful term.

5 thoughts on “Sustaining Higher Ed at University of South Dakota (UPDATED)

  1. If I may make one slight editorial suggestion, I’d change “largely” to “entirely” in this sentence: “…whose existence is [entirely] dependent on the continuation of massive government subsidies.”
    🙂

    I’d also recommend The Myth of the Robber Barons by Burton Folsom – it’s a quick read, and shows how rarely gov’t subsidies produce optimal results. The so-called “robber barons” were villified largely because they beat out their gov’t subsidized competitors, not because they screwed over the public.

    1. PNR,

      I had written it that way first. Then looked at it and considered that somewhere, someone might be doing something “sustainable” without subsidies. Erring on the side of caution. But I know what you are saying.

      Thanks for the book reference. I’ll add it to my shortlist.

      1. I’m sure someone somewhere is, but the industries? No. Would there be a solar industry without a gov’t subsidy? Nope – witness BP, Solyndra, others. Would there be an ethanol industry without a subsidy? Nope. Would there be electric cars without a subsidy? Nope. Would there be a wind-power industry wihtout a subsidy? Nope.

        About the only “sustainability” industries that existed and would continue to exist without subsidies are in metal recycling and second-hand goods, and I don’t think these grads are headed for pawn shops and Goodwill. Then again, maybe they are…

        1. Well said. The industries exist because they are subsidized. Without the green, they wouldn’t be in the business.

          Here’s hoping they are out of business sooner rather than later.

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